July 1916

I’m not sure of the exact date, I don’t even know why I’m writing this letter, my wife Martha died of her illness only days after I left and my parents died when I was young. I was an only child, from what I can remember about my parents my mother couldn't bear bringing up a kid and my father never even wanted me in the first place.

Due to my wife’s illness we didn’t want to risk having a child, we would wait until she got better... I miss her so much, it was the only reason I ever enlisted in this stupid war for the war bonds, and we needed the money for her she’s gone and I’m still here. So why in the bloody hell am I writing this? It may be for my own sanity, the chances are no one will ever see this except me, I don’t expect anyone to make it out of here alive. There are only about a dozen of us left after that fight and those German bastards are getting closer by the minute. I don’t care about any of the soldiers left in front of me, I did care about a few but they’re all dead now.

Dan was a great guy. A little too chatty sometimes, but great and a master with a knife. Him and the boys would always be playing five finger fillet, even by the time Dan knocked down three drinks he’d still be hitting it perfect, faster than anyone. He always loved his trusty scabbard, he said he had pulled it off a dirty German. Alex was quite the opposite of Dan, he was very quiet, but the silence became necessary on the battlefield. He was the best shot anyone’s ever seen, could shoot the feathers right off a snipe from the other side of the forest that one, he was never far from his MkIII Rifle.

Joker was always cocky and a little greedy, but he was a nice guy. He got his nickname from being a poker shark, he never lost, he said it was because of his lucky joker, some even accused him of cheating but I know he’d never do that, he was kindhearted, he even offered to win me some money for Martha’s treatment. While Dan was playing five finger fillet, Joker would be making bets at the table over. I couldn't accept the winnings though, the bonds would be enough to cover it. Little did I know that a few days later I'd receive a letter informing me of her death.

He never told me his real name. It didn’t really matter I guess, we were in the trenches just before the battle started, he looked at me and said, “Don’t lose count, I bet you 10 quid I can take down more than you.” Then he pulled out his lucky joker and stuck it in the top of his helmet. It might as well have been a target.

The second he stuck his head out of the trench, the first bullet fired in the battle went straight through his head. I watched his body fall back down and the gray matter spill out of the back of his head. I gazed as the smoke came off of the hole in the centre of his now bloodstained and singed lucky joker, I couldn’t look away from the broken smile of the jester on the card. It felt like an eternity until Dan came over and shook me out of it, I jumped when he did. I didn’t even notice the sounds of the gunfire. He told me to go grab everyone some ammo; he knew I wasn’t ready to fight after seeing that, I grabbed as much as I could and ran back, then I heard the shot. It knocked me right on my face and I dropped everything I was carrying, the sound was like a cannon. But there was no way they could bring a cannon to the trenches. I got back and I ran back to get to Dan, leaving the ammo behind me.

When I got to Dan his face was pale and he was silent, everyone had told me that even in battle Dan would always be shouting remarks or giving tactical advice, then I climbed up to see what the sound was. The sound from before was a moving cannon, made of metal, I’ve never seen anything like it. Dan looked up with me and he saw a man come out of the top, he tried to shoot him but the barrel was empty, he grabbed me by the collar and started screaming at me for ammo, the ammo I left behind, I saw his pupils dilate as he watched the man go back into the cannon. I’ll never forget what happened next.

Dan pulled his scabbard out of his belt and he leaped over the top of the trench and ran towards the machine...he was shot down in a matter of seconds. But he was still alive on the ground only several feet away from the machine, then it moved. It ran him over and he screamed, the sound is still echoing in my head, the pain he must have felt was excruciating. He screamed and begged as I watched his body get flattened, watched as his skin split open as his blood and innards popped out of him like a balloon full of hot air. Even over all the gunfire I could hear every crunch of his bones being crushed underneath it. I was about to go up after him, I don’t even know why, but then I heard someone yell it “Sniper!”. I ducked back down and looked over, only to see Alex dead, shot through the chest, he had bled out. I’m not sure whether it was because no one heard him over the gunfire or if he was shot through a lung and couldn't get the breath out to scream or if even in death he stayed silent, but no one had come to help him.

I ran back into the bunker and now here I am, writing a letter that will never be seen. I’m looking around right now and I can’t hear anything except Dan’s scream ringing in my head. The walls are pushing closer. I was watching the corner listening to a soldier mutter to himself, the others were trying to calm him down, the muttering became clear to me though. It sounded like German, it was German soldier, a spy, so I picked up a rifle and I shot him, right in the heart. The others came at me, the ones who were trying to calm him down, they tried to grab my gun. Then I realized they were all German soldiers, so I killed them, all of them, I killed them. I picked another gun off the ground and shot another in the head, his brain matter spilled on two of them and they stood there in shock. It gave me the opportunity to snap one of their necks and stab the other in the chest, just as Dan showed me.

He was still breathing when he hit the ground. So I picked up one of the guns and beat his head in with the butt of the rifle. With each hit his choking got quieter and every squish made me more calm, until it wasn't even recognizable as a human head. I heard Dan screaming in my head to come save him so I’m going.

I have one bullet left. I hear the cannon coming closer. I’m coming to save you Dan, Alex, Joker, and Martha. I’m coming to save you.

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